Monday, June 07, 2010

belated thoughts on CSC 2010

  1. I am EXHAUSTED.
  2. Presenting in 3 sessions of 6 (plus various other stuff) means NOT getting to do all the things you really want to do at a conference, namely, go to the sessions you want to hear, and freely skip sessions in order to grab a coffee with people you only see once a year. It also means not being able to live blog/tweet and thus, catch-up blogging. Sigh.
  3. Having food provided for every meal ROCKS. Way to go Lipscomb!!!
  4. The session I most wanted to attend and couldn't: Monstrous Beauty. So many awesome posthuman figures in that one...
  5. The session I most enjoyed participating in: Dating Jesus with Susan Campbell. It was not the only follow-up to last year's groundbreaking sessions on experiences of gender in the c's-of-C (and yes, I agree with JRB, when it comes time to write the next volume of Reviving the Ancient Faith for these recent and upcoming decades, last year's conference is going to be read as a turning point); there was a wonderful session convened by Dr. Sharp Penya of ACU on some results of ongoing research into gender attitudes and predictors of attitudes in our churches. But it was, I think, the session that provided that same voice of experience that last year's sessions did--and I am convinced that this is the thing most needed right now. This is not (only or primarily) an intellectual or hermeneutical matter--this is something that requires a conversaion experience of some sort. And for about 50% of CofCers, that means taking the leap into someone else's experience and making that vicarious experience their own in some sense--enough to prompt the realization that it really is and has been damaging, for many of us, and blindness to that reality is not a moral option. Not everyone will make that leap--there are lots of ways to armor yourself against it--but the immediate task is to make it impossible to be unknowingly ignorant of this reality. Some will choose to be willfully ignorant. And we can't coerce conversion. But we can--like Jesus with the rich young ruler--force people to the point of decision, and if they walk away, we can watch them do it sorrowfully...and turn to the next person, because we can also hope that not everyone will choose to be willfully ignorant of the reality of women in our midst. Not to keep blathering on too much, but again...this is the point of the "women in the CofC" blog experiment, which of course is still ongoing and the invitation is for YOU! (MOM!). I had a vision last year of women sitting primly next to each other in pews every Sunday, silently saying to themselves every week, "How long, O Lord?" and all convinced they were the only ones...while together they send up their silent collective cry to God. How long, indeed? It will remain forever deferred if we all sit silently in our pews frozen by anxiety and unable to speak, even to each other, about the vision of liberation and full range of opportunity of serving our God and our church and our world that we long for. And if you can't bring yourself to lean over and whisper something subversive to the gray-haired old lady next to you--say it here, anonymously if you must, because this is not "laleo in ecclesia" and this Theologian-at-Large and Heretic-for-Hire can take the hit. Plus, back to my original point after that massive tangential diversion, Susan Campbells ROCKS. And she said some of the things we most, most need to hear--like, why does it take a year to get a CofC on board with something which, once you see it, is (in the paraphrase of JRB) "silly right," something which makes our current typical practices obviously and untenably absurd? Why are we taking baby steps? And who are we hurting when we concede to those who require baby steps but those who are already walking wounded? Does that not matter? Why are we so unjustifiably proud of our faltering baby steps--shouldn't we be sprinting toward the goal of justice in our communities? There was also a good back-and-forth on the connection between theology and justice, which makes me wonder (and so I guess I am officially asking), was this experience of injustice within the church the door into Susan's convictions regarding social justice in the wider sense?
  6. Really really really really REALLY stoked about CSC 2011. It'll be sad to miss my annual pilgrimage to middle TN, which really is Home for me, but I shall content myself with the second-best option of Malibu (sarcasm alert here, y'all). AND, of course, the theme is religion and science, and John Polkinghorne is slated to be one of several awesome plenary speakers. Awesome! And there is so much to think many different possibilities for presentations and sessions...very exciting. Ken Reynhout, brace yourself, because I'm going to start begging you to come starting right now.
  7. People seemed to like the posthuman stuff. Always encouraging. And getting a shout-out from James Elkins in the concluding dialogue session was certainly a feather in my cap, which no longer quite fits on my great big inflated head. :)
All right, that's it for now. Next step: go home, and label an empty mayo jar "CSC 2011" and start saving the pennies. :)


Katie said...

JTB, first, can I just say, the doctoral bars on your sleeves are AWESOME! I got the graduation program from PTS (I was one of the absentee D.Min.s, didn't figure I'd go since they canceled my whole dang program and fired my advisor) and it was so much fun to see your name there. Among other notables. How cool, for Clare to be there and perhaps even remember someday that she saw you achieve this pinnacle.

Anyway, it sounds like the CSC was well worth your time. I'm interested to hear that Susan Campbell was there (are you saying she was there?). I wasn't thrilled with "Dating Jesus" mainly because, while I felt a real kinship with her in some important ways, I think I would write my own similar memoir with more...umm...appreciation for what I gained from growing up in the CoC. Sort of God working through a broken system (as all systems are pretty much broken, just in different ways) to make my life good, truly good, in ways it would not have been without that background. I just didn't feel like Campbell could or would say that. But I only read the book, and only once. So.

Anyway, congratulations again, Dr. Thweatt-Bates. From the heart. peace -- Katie H.

JJT said...

Katie, I have been meaning to tell you that you may have graduated in absentia but you got a war whoop from yrs truly!

Yeah, Susan was there, and for the whole conference. I think it might be easy to miss this in the book, but it is clear when you hear her speak that she is ambivalent and not just wholly negative about her C'sofC upbringing.

About tonoard a plane now somust go!